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Social Studies Topics: January

Happy New Year! Whatever year that we are celebrating, we wish you success and successful social studies lessons! We are excited to share our with you! First up: Janus. We got curious about the way that the months are named. Why? Who decided that January would be the name for the first month of the year? We learned about Janus, the Roman god of transitions. He’s interesting because he has two heads! As we learning all about him, we came upon lots of images of ancient Rome and the Colosseum.  We ended up creating a STEM challenge around the building of the Colosseum because our students were so intrigued. Our students were given the chance to name their very own month! This activity is SO much fun because students will get to decide on the number of days in their week, the holidays, and anything else that they’d like to tweak! Check out some of the scenes from our Janus study! We also learn about Alfred Nobel. Why? Because we STAY telling children that someone won the Nobel Peace Prize as if that means anything to them. The story of Nobel is quite fascinating. Long story short, Nobel was a chemist. He invented dynamite. People started using dynamite to, well, kill people. Other people didn’t like him very much because of it- even naming him the “Merchant of Death.” It was reported that he was working in his lab when an explosion happened that killed his brother. The newspapers got the story wrong and printed that HE was the one who died. So, he was able to read what the world would say about him after he died….and it wasn’t good! Many people that this was the catalyst for the Nobel Peace prize- because he wanted to change the legacy that he’d be known for. There’s no way to prove this, but it’s fascinating nonetheless! We also turned this experience into a STEM project- we studied the sociology behind awards: why are tangible reminders of our awards so critical to us? The students came up with lots of ideas that all led to the fact that when we see an award, it reminds us that we did something great. Since we all had that understanding, we decided to engineer displays for the Nobel Peace Prize! I printed images of the Nobel prize and taped them to the circular attribute blocks. Then, they were given straws and tape and were told to work in teams to construct a holder! Jumping into some economics…we thought it would be fun to learn about seasonal jobs! So many seasonal jobs affect the way people live! We loved discussing this concept with our students and hearing their connections. We rounded out the month with some geography. We love seeing the look on our students’ faces when they realized that some people are experiencing warm weather while we are experiencing winter! What we were really after here was giving our students access to a global concept of how people live. We wanted them to realize that not everyone is doing exactly what they are doing.


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